Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Creating A Signature Style with Lindsay from The Cottage Home

We are so lucky to have Lindsay (The Cottage Mama) with us today. 
 I know I say awesome all the time but this time I really mean it---Lindsay is awesome...and talented...and nice.  Genuinely nice.  It's the perfect combination.  And today she is sharing some fantastic insights with us.  Really, I've read this post twice already---it's just so good---take notes, seriously what's coming is some excellent advice. 

Anways enough of my jabber, let's get to the good stuff.
So, how amazing was this season of Project Run & Play?  Absolutely, incredible.  In watching the last two seasons, I feel pretty lucky that I participated in season one as each season brings more and more amazing talent! A big thanks to Liz and Elizabeth for inviting me over to do a guest blog post today.  I'm excited to be here sharing with you all!

Today I wanted to talk about creating a signature style.  As you all know, the final week of Project Run & Play is all about creating a signature look.  Do you know what your signature style is yet?  Well maybe you do or maybe you don't, but if you are really into sewing children's clothing or even clothing for yourself, I would recommend taking some time and think about defining your signature style.

It has taken me several years to really define my signature design style and it has most certainly evolved.  But I have come to a place with my sewing where I am pretty comfortable with my signature look and I would say that most people who follow my shop/blog would know a 'The Cottage Mama' piece if they saw it.  Once you have truly defined you style, designing your own garments becomes so much easier.  So, if you are still working on figuring your style out, consider some of these ideas to define your signature style:

Fabric Type:  What types of fabric do you like to work with?  For me, I am a designer quilting cotton girl all the way!  It's the type of fabric that inspires me, that I feel comfortable working with, and has become what my garments are usually made from.  Now, I'm not opposed to working with other types of fabric, but I know that if someone is going to see one of my pieces, they will probably expect it to be made from quilting cotton.  There are many different women in the sewing/craft blogging community that have really defined themselves by the type of fabrics that they use.
Did you notice how some of the contestants this past season really did a great job sticking to their signature fabrics?  Danielle tended to use more natural fibers, whereas Stef stuck to her signature soft, floral cotton palette.  And Jessica did a fabulous job working textured fabric into each of her looks.

Fabric Design:  What kind of look do you like to create?  Do you like a lot of patterned fabric in a garment?  Do you prefer solids?  Do you like plaids or stripes? Do you like to mix and match different prints?  Personally I love mixing and matching patterned fabric.  To me, it's not a 'The Cottage Mama' piece without the mix of several different pattern fabrics.  I try to use different scales when pairing fabrics to make it all work together.  Pairing printed fabrics has become part of my signature look.
Look in your closet or your kids closet to figure out what type of look you gravitate towards.  I really discovered that I was a pattern fabric type of girl when our photographer (that took our most recent family pictures) suggested that we all wear solids for the shoot.  I went into my closet and the girls and was struggling like crazy to find any solids that would really work.  Often your personal style will show up in the garments you create, so try to stay true to it whenever possible.

Details:  It's the details in a garment that will truly makes yours stand out from the rest.  I mean who wants to spend all that time creating a look to have it look just like someone else's?  I love to use woven trims, ribbon and piping in a lot of my pieces.  Another favorite trim of mine is rick rack for an added fun detail.  Look at the garments you create and think about how you can add in more details.  Piping, for instance, can be inserted into just about any seam.  Try adding some hand-work such as embroidery to take that garment from plain to extraordinary.  Or instead of simply hemming a dress or skirt, make some coordinating bias tape and trim the bottom for a bit of added interest.
Buttons are another fun place to add in detail.  Begin a collection of unique buttons.  You don't have to know exactly what you are going to use them for when you purchase them, but if you love them and they fit within your style, then buy them........I guarantee they will give you inspiration for a garment somewhere down the line.  My personal favorite is fabric covered buttons.  I cannot get enough of these little gems. I have hundreds of metal shank buttons just waiting to be covered in my favorite fabrics.
Speaking of details, wasn't the embroidery work on the back of Danielle's daughters little top in this final round amazing?  And I loved her hand-quilted little jacket.  And Stef's use of beautiful velvet trim and ruffles took her signature look to a whole new level.  And I can't even go into all the details from Jessica's work ~ the bias tape trims, the buttons, the different buckles and zippers and the list goes on and on.  But there is one thing all of these finalists have in common, they all pay great attention to the details.

So, this has just been a little introduction to creating your own signature style.  I think once you have defined your style, you will realize that creating unique, one-of-a-kind garments will come much easier.  Not to mention the fact that you become much more comfortable in your design capabilities.  Now, I'm not opposed to trying looks outside my signature style, but if I really want to shine, I always come back to where I am most comfortable and that is with 'The Cottage Mama' signature style.
So tell us, what's your signature style?
Or are you still working on defining your style?
Again, thank you ladies for having me today!  If you have a minute, I'd love for you all to come visit me at my blog, The Cottage Home ( for more sewing, crafting and cooking tutorials.  Or visit my children's clothing and sewing pattern website, The Cottage Mama (
Happy Sewing,
Lindsay Wilkes
The Cottage Mama

What did I tell you?  GOOD STUFF right?
Lindsay, thank you so so much for this great article.  It is good advice for everyone.  Thank you for sharing it with us.
(And to all you readers, if you haven't been to Lindsay's really are missing out.  If you liked this post you should see what else she has to offer.  You won't be disappointed.)

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  1. I can't seem to find my "signature style" because I love everything! I love vintage, boho, tribal-inspired, everything from Amy Butler cotton prints to tie dye. I just can't narrow it down!

  2. what a fabulous post! and gosh i love her style:)

  3. Me too, Alida! I love sewing for my son. I love denim and Amy Butler and all those boy prints out there. I love dresses and knits and pants! It's so hard to narrow it down!!

  4. Thank you for this. I am a new business owner and although I love to sew, I find myself struggling with creating something I love or something someone will purchase. This was encouraging to me to be reminded that my style isn't going to be loved by everyone but that by sticking to a signature style that I love to create, my joy of sewing wil not be taken away :)

  5. This is a truly fabulous post by Lindsay. Great tips and pointers. I think I may be in the boat with Alida though on actually having a signature style - I still think I try a bit of everything...kind of like the Gap. Lol

  6. Thanks you guys so much! This was really fun to put together. I had so much more to say, but I figured it was long enough for now :). April, you are exactly right........not everyone is going to love what you design. But you will not ever be able to please everyone, so it is best to just stay true to yourself. I admire so many bloggers for their design abilities. I love the modern, the girly, the simple, the vintage, the complex........but just because I like and appreciate another style, doesn't mean I am going to be good at designing in that style. Such a fun topic......I could go on and on, but I'll spare you :). Thanks again!!

  7. Great post! I have just started sewing, so I don't know if I am ready to define my "signature style," yet. But I am pinning this so that I will have these great tips in the future.

  8. I love COTTAGE MAMA!!! and her style too. She has such a knack for the details. love her work.

  9. What a great post! :) I have been working on the signature style project and have been trying to figure out what mine is. I'm afraid it's a little bit boring and practical. I totally need to work on mixing up prints. :)

  10. This is a wonderful post, and a must-reed for all future PR&P designers, I think!! I do believe it's harder to figure out your OWN style...might be easier for others to evaluate it for you. I only seemed to be able to describe my style after I put my designs up against others in this competition! :)

  11. This was a great read, lots of amazing advice. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I really liked the suggestion to check in our own closets!

    I really love striped knit fabrics, but most mamas that want to buy my stuff like frilly dresses, etc.

    I almost feel embarrassed when I sew these items for them because I would never dress my children in that kind of stuff.

    I think with the knits and stripes, instead of paying so much attention to trims and finishes it may be more important to focus on sewing precision. so that stripes line up, and details like that to make it look professional instead of fabric covered buttons and ruffles.

    This article has really given me a lot to think about.


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